Catastrophe by the Sea

(Text by (Art/Photo Books)) (Illustrator)

Product Details

$16.99  $15.80
West Margin Press
Publish Date
11.1 X 9.1 X 0.4 inches | 0.9 pounds

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About the Author

Brenda Peterson is a novelist, memoirist, nature writer, children's book author, conservationist, and educator. For the past two decades she has studied and written about animals and nature, and is the founder of Seal Sitters She lives in Seattle, Washington. Visit her at

Ed Young has been honored the Caldecott Medal for his illustrations and has published over 80 books for children. Born in Tientsin, China, he graduated from Art Center in Pasadena, California, and has taught art at several universities, including Pratt, Yale, Naropa, and UC Santa Cruz. Ed believes challenge and growth are central to his illustrations and hopes to expand awareness through them. He lives in New York. Visit him at


The marine creatures living in the tide pool along the ocean's edge are at first alarmed by the cat that has pounced his way there, a long way from home. But after a stinging confrontation between the cat and a sea anemone turns amicable, the other sea creatures extend a welcome to Catastrophe the cat as well. Catastrophe learns about the diverse lifestyles of the ocean creatures and is sad when he can't find them after a strong and violent tide nearly washes them all away. However, Catastrophe soon learns of the amazing resilience of the sea animals and develops a strong affinity and appreciation for them as individuals. Through characters such as Buddy the barnacle and Naimonee the anemone as well as a dance troupe of crabs and a band of barnacles, young readers will learn some of the characteristics that make these creatures unique. Written by acclaimed nature writer Peterson, in partnership with the Seattle Aquarium, the uniquely creative picture book tells an adventure story that builds awareness, understanding, and empathy for a world that some may overlook or take for granted. There is a wealth of information and inspiration to learn by observing the teamwork and survival skills of the smallest of living things. Young's distinctive collage artwork is phenomenal and adds texture and detail to the story that is integral to the moods of the book. VERDICT A harmonious picture book that celebrates biodiversity and builds empathy. --Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE (Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.)-- "School Library Journal"
Peterson's lyrical text perfectly complements Young's stunning mixed-media-and-collage artwork. In one spread, the cat's shadow looms over a flailing, gigantic red octopus; in another, Catastrophe's paws reach out to the delicate, pastel tentacles of an anemone; and a band of purple barnacles rhythmically click and clack their shells despite being permanently attached to a rock. . . Appended with further discussion of tide pools and the importance of empathizing with these creatures.-- "Booklist"
"One of the most important life skills we can reinforce in our children is empathy--being able to take another's perspective, even if that "other" isn't human. Catastrophe by the Sea does double duty by not only increasing our empathy for the struggles of intertidal creatures, but also our amazement at their survival superpowers. By extension, children will realize that they and all other humans have unique personal gifts to share with the world."-- "Ruth G. Shelly, Executive Director, Portland Children's Museum"
"Many of us have, at one point or another, felt just like the sea anemone character when she shouts 'I'm just as alive as you!' This charming tale does an excellent job of helping us human-centric beings to see ourselves in the uncelebrated creatures of the sea. In considering the perspective of a barnacle or a slug, we can begin to question our attitudes towards all kinds of 'others' considered too alien to merit our concern. Hooray for oceanic empathy!"-- "Andrea K. Jones, founder, Peak Experience Lab"
A lost Siamese cat learns about life on an ocean beach and in a tide pool... Torn-paper collage illustrations of the cat are compelling, and the variety of textures and effects achieved with the combination of different papers is fascinating when perused closely. As explained in an afterword, the fanciful story was developed in partnership with the Seattle Aquarium as an effort to increase empathy for sea life.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
If you are looking for a fun, delightful book to share with a child or grandchild, Catastrophe By the Sea is a wonderful choice. It's a story that's sweet yet compelling, it teaches empathy and compassion through simple modeling, and it accurately depicts the interconnection of life and how even our simplest choices make an instrumental difference.-- "Psychology Today"
Brenda Peterson's words are like music. Ed Young's exquisite art flows like water through every page. Tide pool creatures would be proud of Catastrophe by the Sea.-- "Sy Montgomery, author Soul of an Octopus"
Catastrophe by the Sea is a real delight. Brenda Peterson's playful text and Ed Young's stunning art tell the story of a lost cat befriending barnacles and other tidepool creatures. This charming new book inspires children to celebrate and care about these often-overlooked animals whose brave and vivid lives are so vital to our oceans."-- "Marc Bekoff, author of Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do"
A cat learns to see creatures that are different than her two and four legged friends. No soft fur or skin, but tentacles and shells. The cat learns about and feels for creatures in the tide pool, she teaches children. The book leaves us with hope that the children will teach their adults.-- "Zorana Ivcevic, Research Scientist, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence"
"A beautifully illustrated, heart-warming story of curiosity, empathy, and friendship. It reminds us that when we keep an open mind and an open heart possibilities for friendship are infinite. And, when we get to know our friends, be it in the ocean, in the air, or on land, we understand that they have a little bit of us in them, and we have a little bit of them in us. We are one big family, each unique and essential, just the way we are!-- "Elif Gokcigdem, author and founder of Empathy-Building Through Museums"